• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 48s

Two-foot high kick takes Arctic Winter Games to new heights

By Heather Hintze 9:16 PM March 18, 2014

The sport has deep cultural roots in Alaska's whaling industry.

FAIRBANKS - The concept is simple: Kick the suspended ball with both feet and then land on both feet.

The competitors make it look much easier than it is though.

“It’s a whole other level of difficulty,” said Nick Hanson, a member of Team Alaska from Unalakleet. “You’re not just putting a ball through a hoop every single time. It’s such a small target and it’s so high up there. You’ve got to really focus on being accurate and being explosive enough to get as high as you can get.”

Some of the men can reach up to eight feet. So what does it take to jump that high?

“A lot of confidence,” laughed Casey Ferguson from Team Alaska. “It takes a lot of skill, a lot of practice, repetition, stretching.”

In addition to the stiff competition, the athletes say they also appreciate the cultural significance of the sport.

“Hunters would do the two-foot high kick to signal a bowhead whale was caught. The two feet going up in the air would represent the fluke of the bowhead whale,” Ferguson explained.

“My family is from Barrow and the two-foot high kick did represent the bowhead whale being caught. They would do the two-foot high kick and say, ‘OK, we need people to come help bring the whale in’ or ‘we need people to get the village ready because we’re bringing in a whale,’” Hanson said. “I like that cultural aspect of it.”

For Alaskan athletes, these games are a chance to learn more about their history and pass along the traditions of their ancestors.

“For youth, if they have something they’re proud of they’re going to work a lot harder, they’re going to stay out of trouble. They’re going to push themselves for a better future,” said Erica Meckel from Fairbanks.

“It makes it that much more important for us. I come from Chevak where my culture is still pretty strong and because of that, it’s important to me,” Ferguson said.

Participating in the games is one way to keep the cultural traditions going for generations to come.

Latest Stories

  • Crime

    2 arrested in connection with $30K stolen from Alaska fish hatchery

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 20, 18:39

    Two Palmer men are in custody in connection with a burglary that occurred at an Alaskan fish hatchery last month. On Nov. 8, Alaska State Troopers were notified that $30,000 worth of steel, aluminum and copper had been stolen from the Eklutna Tailrace fish hatchery. The suspects also caused approximately $30,000 worth of damage by “cutting through walls […]

  • News

    Last call to get Christmas gifts in the mail

    by Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 17:07

    The Saturday before Christmas is one of the busiest mailing days of the year — and for good reason. If gifters want to make sure their cards, presents and parcels arrive by Dec. 25, the deadline to send mail first-class or priority is today. “With our transportation network that we have, a lot of our priority […]

  • News

    Anchorage libraries get new self-checkout machines

    by Sierra Starks, Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 16:24

    Anchorage Public Library is unveiling a new addition to its branch locations. Libraries around Anchorage debuted new self-service checkout machines last week. Z. J. Loussac Public Library launched their new machines Friday. On Saturday, library-goers could be seen testing out the touchscreen feature, returning books and DVDs and checking their account balances. Stacia McGourty, a reference and […]

  • News

    Man fatally struck, trapped under vehicle near downtown Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 20, 14:58

    A man is dead after a pedestrian-involved crash near downtown Anchorage that occurred early Saturday morning. At around 2:30 a.m., police and medics responded to the collision near the 1400 block of 12th Avenue. The 911 caller stated that a man delivering newspapers had struck a pedestrian, according to a statement from the Anchorage Police Department. […]

  • News

    Coast Guard rescues stranded Alaska hunter

    by Associated Press on Dec 20, 12:08

    The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued a hunter who was stranded on Chicagof Island in Alaska after he was separated from his hunting party. Rescuers in Juneau were alerted that there was a hunter in distress on the nearby island. They launched a helicopter crew to find him in the dark of night. The hunter […]

  • Sports

    Day 2: T-Bird Classic, Cougar Tip-Off

    by KTVA Sports on Dec 20, 11:52

    Day 2 of the T-Bird Classic brought a hot start for the Bears, whose girls won, 51-14, against Eagle River. A bomb threat briefly placed East High School on lockdown and the game was delayed. Kodiak’s Dannika Catt called the long delay at halftime “awkward at first.” “Because we didn’t know if we were still going […]

  • News

    Murkowski expresses concern about North Korean cyber hack

    by Lauren Maxwell on Dec 19, 22:31

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Friday she is very concerned now that the U.S. has established a link between the North Korean government and a recent hacking attack against Sony. The senator said the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, considers the cyber attack a  national threat. “This hacking is directly linked to North Korea, there’s […]

  • Lifestyle

    VIDEO: Minnesota climber begins solo ascent of Denali

    by John Thain on Dec 19, 21:45

      TALKEETNA - Climbing season on Denali is long over, but for Lonnie Dupre, it’s just beginning. The 53-year-old Minnesota man is attempting to be the first person to summit it alone in January. It’s his fourth attempt after trying similar expeditions in 2013, 2012, and 2011. The closest he came was just over 17,000 feet […]